Monday, 19 March 2018

Reality, the Mystical Self-Referential Descent into Imagination

In his article "The Self-Referential Aspect of Consciousness" Cosmin Visan [1] explains in great detail how Self-Reference (SR) brings Consciousness into existence. He also describes how consciousness is structured on a hierarchy of phenomenological levels as manifestations of self-reference, which he names Self, Vividness, Diversity, Memory and Time. However, he describes a remaining problem as regards how self-reference picks up essences, give us exactly the qualia domains we have and not others.
Although I will certainly not claim to have solved this problem I would like to take you on a mystical journey into additional possible levels of phenomenology as an alternative non-scientific representation (I don't dare to call it an explanation) of a great deal of phenomena. Additional levels are frequency, music and recursive self-modification, respectively, giving rise to electromagnetic radiation, gravity and material reality ontogenesis.
I will also draw an analogy between Visan's phenomenological levels of SR and Peircean, Palmerian and Goertzelian metaphysics.

Moreover, I will present this as a spiritual process of the art of the descent of the Self into matter.

It is certainly no claim of me or of this essay that anything described herein is the way that things happen in reality. Rather it is an artistic and aesthetic proposal, building on philosophical and mythological ideas. A mythopoetic mythopoetic proposal, which suggests how from consciousness a material world can have arisen. Any assertion in this article should not be considered a fact but a hypothesis.


Because the explanation of the Self-Referential Aspect of Consciousness is indispensable to my theory, I'd like to encourage you to read this paper [1]  before going further. But in case you don't have time for that I will try to summarise its teachings briefly, knowing that this is bound to give an incomplete understanding.

Visan describes how self-reference has the property of looking back at itself. The Self, the ontological entity at the heart of consciousness is hereinafter referred to as "I" (although not referring to the Ego). Imagine an empty universe where there is only "I". "I" sends an "am" arrow like reference into the unknown, which only hits something by returning to itself, thereby acknowledging its own existence and thus establishing the "I am" knowledge of itself. This level of Being Visan calls the phenomenological level of "Self", which can be compared to Peirce's firstness or raw being. Kether of the Kabbalah.

Now the Self can identify with this new "I am" concept which appeared, leading to an I am "I am" state. This is the second level, Visan calls "Vividness". I compare it to a kind of reaction or polarisation or dualisation into two states, comparable with Peirce's secondness. It also brings a first possibility of creating distance to itself. To see oneself as an object.

This process can be repeated to give higher levels such as I am "I am "I am"". This generates "Diversity" according to Visan as the self can identify with multiple states, namely with both "I am" and with the "I am "I am". Therefore Visan calls this state I am "I am" & I am. In Peircean metaphysics the third level is about relation between the two poles, which is in fact expressed in the ampersand symbol of the above-mentioned state. It brings a further possibility of creating distance to itself. To see oneself as an object and to see the content of one's contemplation.

The fourth level introduces Memory. Memory stores what has been, which is its own quale and which is the collection of all its previous levels: Diversity & Vividness & Self equals the state [I am "I am" & I am] & [I am "I am"] & [I am].
The emergent level is more than the levels from which it emerges and cannot be reduced thereto, but does include those levels, which are also still operating independently. Each level is a form of consciousness and each qualitative essence requires a complete emergent structure to arise.

Visan defines an essence as that what makes an entity to be what it is and also equates this to a quale and a concept. An existence he defines as an actual instantiation of an essence. By introducing a third degree of distance, we have now created our familiar three dimensional space. But that also means that memory is a kind of spherical cell, as there is no mechanism by which extension would be more prominent along one of the axes. In analogy to the terminology in Steven Kaufman's URT [2], we could call this memory cell a "reality cell".
As each entity can look back at itself, it is fact a kind of "Self" itself. Which means that self-reference is a means to generate a plurality of "selves", so that it includes and transcends itself. It  bootstraps consciousness into existence, the actual only thing that really exists.
In Goertzelian metaphysics (which continues where Peirce and Palmer stopped) four is the level of emergence of the first stable form. A memory is also a stable form in that it can be remembered and thus perpetuated over time. Thus Self has created the first structurally existing object, which is also a subject as it is a self with the ability to look back at itself. This looking back at itself of a memory cell creates a kind of pulsation: the "memory" sends "am" radial like reference arrows into the unknown, which only hits something by returning to itself. This can be called the breathing of a reality cell and is in fact the generation of periodicity of time.

Visan distinguishes between recursivity and self-reference. A fractal, which is recursive takes its output and uses this as an input in an iterative manner. Looking-back-at-itself however, is not iterative but is by its very nature Visan argues. The "self-reference" is always itself; it does not need to do anything. The "process" of levels described above, may look iterative, but in fact it is just the continuous action of looking back, which does not stop but is always there in a timeless manner and is not really a process.

How do "doing" and time then arise?


Interested in reading more of this chapter? The book “Is Reality a Simulation? An Anthology”, which I, Antonin Tuynman (a.k.a. Technovedanta) edited and co-authored is now available as Hardcopy and as Kindle ebook. But you can get a free pdf, if you promise me to write a review and post it on Amazon, Goodreads and Lulu. For a free pdf send an email to iconomen at gmail dot com.

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